Lionel Messi: Barcelona DROP Messi for Sporting Lisbon Champions League game | Football | Sport

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Messi has been in fine form this season, at times propping up Barcelona’s attack.

The Argentine ended a five-game goal drought with his strike in the 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

He boasts 17 goals for the season so far but has been dropped to the bench for tonight’s Champions League clash.

And he reason for that is not down to his form.

For while the 30-year-old has struggled to find the net of late, he has still helped Barca maintain their unbeaten start to the league season.

Instead, manager Ernesto Valverde appears to have rested Messi along with a number of his top stars.

Indeed, of the 11 men who started the La Liga tie with Celta Vigo, only Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic survive the cull.

Valverde has made the changes in order to give his first-team stars a rest, knowing Barca have already qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League.

He is also wary of Barca’s upcoming fixtures, with games against Villarreal, Deportivo and Real Madrid on the horizon before Christmas.

Messi was benched by Barcelona for their Champions League match with Juventus earlier this season.

Asked about the decision, he said: “Every time I‘m on the bench, there’s a lot of commotion because I usually play, I don’t like sitting out, I like to participate and help from the inside.

“But I understand it’s a long season and that I have to look after myself more because the seasons keep getting tougher.”

Barcleona team

Barcelona XI: Cillessen, Semedo, Pique, Rakitic, D. Suarez, L. Suarez, Alcacer, Digne, Gomes, Vidal, Vermaelen.

Subs: Ter Stegen, Sergio, Messi, Paulinho, Deulofeu, J.Alba, S.Roberto.



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